BITTER EXPERIENCE will ensure Leeds Rhinos are fully switched on when they face Betfred Super League’s bottom club Widnes Vikings at Halton Stadium today.
Rhinos’ season began to unravel after they were hammered 56-12 on Widnes’ artificial pitch last year, when Ashton Golding, Tom Briscoe and Carl Ablett picked up long-term injuries in a devastating 15-minute spell.
Even in their 2015 treble-winning season Leeds came unstuck at Halton Stadium, losing 38-24, so veteran half-back/hooker Rob Burrow knows the situation in the league table will mean nothing today.
Leeds are third and beat Widnes 42-22 at Headingley on Easter Monday, but Burrow insisted: “There’s no easy games.
“Every team seems to lift their game for us so we are expecting a really tough game.
“They will challenge us anyway and it’s a bit different playing there on that surface.
“I watched them at the Magic Weekend and they’ve got some really good young talent coming through.
“It is a big area for rugby league and obviously they are still coming through the system there, but we are feeling good and after a win like we had on Friday you look forward to the next game.”
The 40-0 thrashing of Warrington Wolves three days ago was a step in the right direction, according to Burrow.
“We haven’t got a good track record against Warrington,” he reflected.
“We spoke about them being a team that can beat us and have done well and proved that in the past.
“We had to react well to the loss at the Magic Weekend and we were straight back into it against a big side who were on form.
“It was a great effort and I don’t think it could have gone much better. There’s always going to be errors, but a), to get a win against Warrington and b), keep a zero against them on the scoreboard is a really good result.”
Rhinos lost full-back Ashton Golding to a hamstring pull in the first half and forward Brett Delaney damaged a knee late in the game.
Both players will miss today’s match, but Mitch Garbutt is available after injury and Ash Handley and Jack Ormondroyd could both be recalled, with teenager Alex Sutcliffe on stand-by for his debut.
Just two clear days between games is tough, but Burrow insisted: “We are pretty fresh.
“We are all a bit sore, but everybody’s in the same boat.
“It’s like a second Easter, but we are all right, we are in pretty good shape.
“We will go there with confidence and I think we are feeling pretty good as a squad.”
Leeds – along with Leigh Centurions – are facing the toughest holiday schedule as they meet at Headingley on Friday night.
Three games in eight days is a challenge, but Burrow insisted: “It is nicer backing up a few days after a win rather than a loss so it won’t be hard to get up for [today’s] game.
“We are in good shape. We are quietly going under the rader, which is good for us and we are picking off each game.
“We were disappointed with the Magic Weekend, but it was good to get back on track on Friday.”
Golding’s injury against Warrington led to a reshuffle with Liam Sutcliffe moving to full-back, Joel Moon into the centres and Burrow off the bench to scrum-half.
“I enjoyed the game time,” said Burrow, who rounded off the scoring with a spectacular solo try from deep inside Leeds’ half.
“It was a flowing game and I was happy with the contribution I made.
“It was good to get on before half-time.
“Sometimes you go on and the game’s lost or won and it’s hard to get into it, but with that extra game time I felt like I could settle into the game.”